SLOVAK hotels with meeting and congress facilities must be very active in seeking business during the current economic crisis as companies are reducing their budgets for meetings. Special service packages, an individualised approach, efforts to find price compromises and intensive promotion are ways to keep the hotel business as healthy as possible according to three hoteliers.
The Slovak Spectator spoke with Marek Harbuľák, general manager of Hotel Doubletree by Hilton in Košice, Anna Marafková, marketing manager of Wellness Hotel Patince and Rozwitha Kováčiková, director of sales and marketing at Hotel Yasmin in Košice about their hotels' approaches to convention tourism and the challenges which the economic crisis has brought.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): To what extent are the congress capacities in your hotel used? In which seasons is the interest in the congress services of your hotel highest and lowest?
Marek Harbuľák (MH): The Hotel Doubletree by Hilton in Košice has flexible, spacious, and sunny congress rooms with the latest audio/video technology and a capacity of up to 350 participants. In the short history of our hotel we have witnessed quite a big interest in all types of congress rooms, as well as banquet halls.
From the point of view of convention tourism, the most active months of the year are April, May, and June and then September, October, and November. But we have orders to organise various cultural and social events throughout the whole year.
Anna Marafková (AM): There is big interest in our congress centre which opened this January. The current capacity is 300 persons. As our capacity was expanded by about 200 places, we can now also serve larger groups. The highest level of interest from companies is traditionally in spring and autumn.
Rozwitha Kováčiková (RK): The Yasmin Hotel is primarily oriented toward organising conferences and meetings. There was a lack of hotels covering this segment in Košice. I can positively state that we are also successful, as evaluated best by our clients. Of course, this is because of the good quality of our technological equipment and the professional approach of our staff.
The interest remains stable the whole year round. Of course, summer months are not fully used but we compensate for this lack by organising weddings, family celebrations and events on the terrace and in the garden of our hotel. We have an advantage in this area when compared with the competition and we also attract clients with our grill parties.
TSS: What types of businesses show the greatest interest in organising congresses at your hotel? What business sectors are they from?
MH: Our clientele is quite wide. The smaller and mid-sized conferences are dominated by pharmaceutical companies and financial institutions. Big congresses are organised mainly by foreign agencies and international organisations. However, companies of regional, national, or global importance from various branches of the economy also show a big interest.
AM: The companies are from different branches; a large proportion of them are companies in the pharmaceutical, food, and chemical industries as well as financial, telecommunications, and information technologies companies.
RK: These are large industrial concerns and pharmaceutical companies.
TSS: Which new products or service packages have you introduced at your hotel as a response to the economic crisis?
MH: Like all other hotels, we strive to keep in the “savings mode” and to use the hotel’s spaces and potential as effectively as possible. We especially try to address our clients with high quality services, benefits stemming from the long years of experience by our international hotel chain, and a balanced ratio of quality and price.
We also try to attract attention by interesting and favourable campaigns and special packages. For example, at this time we are offering a campaign favourable for mid-sized and smaller conferences.
AM: We have reacted with a change in price policy, with various discount packages, but without affecting the quality of the services we render. In spite of the lower prices, we still manage to keep our level of services high.
RK: The crisis has influenced us but one should not get scared by it. First, we have to think positively. We have strengthened our business activities and our promotion. I am against stagnation; progressiveness in sales always brings success. Of course, personal contacts and good ideas are crucial, too.
We meet our clients’ requirements by using an individualised approach, taking into consideration their budget and trying to find a compromise. We have new products for individual clients where we are introducing them to interesting sites of our city and the region.
The eastern part of Slovakia has its appeal, too, but needs to be better promoted. And this is what we all strive for at the Yasmin hotel.
14. Sep 2009 at 0:00 | Jana Liptáková